Sunday, April 29, 2007

Still getting an F in math...

Oh bother. I was merrily knitting away on a stitch swatch / washrag, and goofed it up. Dang it. I had it in my head that my pattern was 43 rows INCLUDING the 5 row borders. I was wrong. It was 43 row MINUS the border, so I have the pineapple motif jammed down on one edge, instead of anywhere remotely centered. But it's bound off, and I am not ripping it out. It has a fraternal twin that worked out a little better.
If you turn it sideways, it's a fish longing to get out of the tank.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Go ask Alice

I got scared today. I was afraid my top would resemble a MD warshrag, but it DOESN'T! On the Elann chatside, I asked how to make this boxy thing fit better. Alice Trueman gave me some good ideas. She said-

Bets, try the following. Knit the front longer than the back - about 2" for a C or D cup, less for A or B. Mark the bust point on the front panel - same place both sides. On the side panel, decrease (K2tog or SSK) just below this point on right side rows (or all rows if need be) to reduce to the same number of stitches as the back side panel from hem to shoulder.

Measure around your arm/shoulder at the point on your body that the panel reaches to. Add a little ease. Convert this measurement into stitches. Put a marker at each end of these stitches.

Start the sleeve decreases within these stitches. When you get beyond desired body width, continue on the sleeve stitches. At the same time start short rows from the armhole downwards to bring in the waist a bit. You may find it easier to transfer the sleeve stitches to a separate needle and knit the sleeves. Then go back to the body stitches and knit into the ends of the sleeve rows as you come to them - this forms a little gusset so that you can move without excess bulk. Depending upon length, you may need to add some short rows to provide hip room. Remember that all your shaping except the shoulders is in the side panels.

Holy crap~just throw ALL the how-to books away, and ask Alice.

So I added an extra four rows to the front. I expected to have more stitches to pick up and knit on the front edges , but accidentally saved myself the heartache, because I did them on an interior square. The wide swath with no garter ridge is where those extra rows are. When I compared row counts front to back, counting garter ridges, I had the same number, even though one had an extra four rows built in. No reductions were needed at the sides, but the four interior rows gave me length and depth where I wanted it.

On the side panels, I was worried because it looked kind of dishraggy at the join...I followed directions, but it's not the prettiest thing ever. That doesn't show when it's on-the graphic nature of the fronts carries it. I added short rows at the hem, to allow a little hip room. I also worked in a few purl rows so that it matches the main pattern of the top.

On the sleeves, I did gusset the seams a little (got rid of six stitches total, then picked two up when I switched to working in the round. I started working short rows early on, so that it resembles a normal set-in sleeve. I was scared that my sleeves wouldn't match-that is a HUGE pet peeve of mine with self-patterning yarns, but in all honesty, no one is gonna even be looking at my sleeves.

I tried it on after I finished the first side. I am totally happy with this. Hope I can duplicate all this on the second side.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Look at my train wreck! That's right, it's Skacel Solista. It was on sale at Herrschner's last week for .97 a ball. It's cotton and rayon, an Italian tubular ribbon, and it reminds me of SOS. You know, Morse code--..._ _ _... It is at once exhilarating and scary. I like things with high contrast, and this is nothing BUT high contrast. Either I get it right or it looks like fright night.


Why, yes, I have cheated on Wren. Here is the front of the Heartbeat Sweater, by Just One More Row, in Plymouth Bella.

I was a bit on the fence about this, because the yarn seemed to make very regular stripes, and I wasn't sure if I liked it. I reserved judgement til I got the whole front finished, and it's kind of cool. I have to finish the back, sides and sleeves to see what I really think.

Monday, April 23, 2007

If charity begins at home-

don't you think I should just be charitable and STAY home for a while? We had the local "Taste of the County" fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce today. Compared to Relay for Life, it was a piece of cake.

Valletta Kafe looked very professional and slick...but didn't have to work really hard. This year, just like last year, our competitor was there too. (Actually, since we've opened, three other coffee spots have opened-one has folded, but the new shop was there tonight.) We looked really good in comparison. We ignored the ease of dessert, and just made coffee, espresso, and lattes. They are a PITA, but we don't want to confuse people about what we do.

There's a secret to choosing a good location for any event-never pick a location right up front. Pick one in a corner that people will have to pass to circulate. The spots right up front near the door get ignored. Failing that, get one right next to the beer. People will flock to beer, especially if it's free!

Like I said, we didn't have to work very hard at all today. We had a few ol' boys come up and ask for seconds on coffee, "Man, that's GOOD, what is it I'm drinking?" We've been struggling to get the fellas out away from the Stop and Rob coffee rack for two years.

I think I am good for the first half of the year-two charity events in a 5 day period are enough. At least, that's what I thought to myself when the State Troopers Widows and Orphans fund called today. I don't really know if the W & O get a decent check when Trooper Bob gets mowed down in a traffic stop. Does anyone know this answer?

My Silk City Perle Cotton 10/2 came in today. Was I insane to buy this?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Relay for Life just about killed me

The plan was-

Mark was going to go run the coffee booth at Relay for Life. The XI IO OMEGA gals were going to help him. I was going to go home, because I had been at the coffee shop since 9 yesterday morning.

What really happened-I went to help Mark set up. And stayed. And we worked our asses off. We sold espressos, lattes, coffee and cookies until we ran out of espresso beans, then we left the brew coffee and airpots with the sorority ladies. Five minutes after I walked in the door this morning, my alarm went off (at 4:48) to get up.

The entire team goal was 1200.00, and I think we added about 25% more to the totals. Plain coffee was 1.50 a cup and lattes were 2.50, so that cash was hard earned. Based on cup and milk consumption, we had record sales in a high school concession stand. I am absolutely certain that Mark could not have handled it by himself. It would go in spurts-coffee, latte, coffee, coffee, COFFEE, latte latte LATTE, steamer.

There will always be one person that you want to drown in the dish sink. For some reason, there are people who think it's a good idea to stand in a coffee bar and proclain that they would rather eat dirt than drink coffee. One woman was loudly sulking because we didn't bring hot chocolate syrup (we brought our top sellers, vanilla and caramel.) I thought I would would be diplomatic, and spooned up a little leftover vanilla steamer for her to taste. She acted like I was trying to serve her rat asses on toast and refused to even try a coffee-less vanilla drink. I wanted to cue up the violin solo from Psycho right then! Reet, reet, reet! Don't screw with me at 2:30 in the morning, or I will stab you with a plastic spoon!

The Kiri? I should have given it to my best aunt. I think Kiri raised a whopping 10.00. It all adds up, but I think next year, I'll skip anything that's not a quilt. Not a good use of time. I hope to see my gorgeous Kiri kerchief on someone, somewhere, someday.

If you are a team mom, club sponsor, or teacher that ends up helping the Widget Club, I salute you. It's hard to sell a significant amount of anything at a concession stand. Bravo!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Skip the hype-

I had a chance to hear Dr. Edith Eva Eger at a National Prayer breakfast some 13 years ago. Since then, I have looked and looked for publications, speaking engagements, ANYTHING, just to hear this woman again. The last time she came through my area of the country, I made plans to go, but we had a record-setting flood two days before. Darn it. She is truly inspirational. I found this podcast which, despite the commercial feel, shows the tip of the iceberg.

I managed to finish the back of Wren before I got distracted. My Heartbeat sweater pattern tempted me beyond the reaches of my discipline. This pattern is interesting. It is ALMOST the perfect self-striping yarn pattern, but I want to see what happens at the neckline. The fronts and backs are identical, so I fear that might be a detractor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partly snotty with a chance of binocular vision

My binocular vision failed on March 19th. Since then, I have been to a GP twice (he thought it was Bell's Palsey) and an opthamologist three times. The eye guy was just puzzled. All of us were relieved the it wasn't a tumor, nor a stroke (my cousin just missed one last year at the whomping age of 42, and I am several years beyond that.) All three of my MRIs indicated sinusitis. The opthamologist started talking surgery on my second visit, and wanted me to go to a neurological opthamologist.

I've never had any real sinus trouble other than the occaisional headache, but I live in Texas, and if you come to the state without allergies or sinus troubles, you will have them eventually. As my darling friend T reminded me, "You are over 40, and stuff starts to move and sag." GRRREATTT.

The military has always sent me on my medical rounds (for better or worse) for most of my adult life, so I was not all that familiar with the way the civilian world runs medicine. Big shock. After three rounds of amoxycillin and a round of Tequin, I was really pissed. Every exam room I sat in had a drug company's exploded view of either sinuses or eyes. I could see where trouble in one could influence the other. I tried the netti pot, and saw STARS, it hurt so badly. So I called the GP, and asked for a referral to an ENT guy. I went yesterday.

It's hard to have a dignified conversation with a man who's held a penlight up your nose-but he had a pretty good grip on what to do. He said I was so blocked he couldn't see anything. He said to use Mucinex, Nasonex, and an antibiotic that the local pharmacy doesn't have on hand. (More eyerolling there...I looked like I was going to grab my script and leave, and the clerk said "But it's an antibiotic. You NEED it." Which doesn't mean anything if they don't HAVE it.)

Forced into waiting, I did my Mucinex and Nasonex routine last night and this morning. I got really excited when phlegm, and then real boogers showed up, and immediately e'd friends and spouse. It startled me this afternoon when I realized that I had binocular vision. I got really excited, moved my head, and then...damn! It went out on me. Since I haven't had it for a month, it was amazing. Life sucks when everything looks like a Picasso painting. I've spilled a lot of stuff this month.

I've had little spurts of it all thru the afternoon and evening. It will be a while before this is all cleared out, but I just may be able to drive to the grocery this weekend!

And look what came in the mail today! It's a new Sonata print called Licorice Allsorts and JOMR's Heartbeat pattern. I LIKE this combination. Maybe it will motivate me to work harder on Wren? ---ah, never mind, Blogger isn't letting me load right this sec.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Under pressure:

This seems to fit the events of the day. The song's been stuck in my head all morning. Today, I miss Freddy Mercury; I am shocked that this clip is 21 years old, or roughly the age of many college students. 'Nuff said.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unscripted cuteness-

Here are the new additions to Benne's duck family. Normally, she spends weeks incubating eggs.

This little mama did all the work on her own, but trusted Benne enough to move her and her ducklings to a sheltered and protected spot. Mama was one of Benne's charges last spring.

Ducklings must beware of snapping turtles, snakes, and just about everything on God's acre. Apparently, tiny ducklings are the hors d' ouvres of the animal kingdom. Snapping turtles, snakes, skunks, and just about EVERYTHING else on said acre had better stay out of Benne's way, because she IS the Avenging Angel and patron saint of all ducks in the county. And she's handy with a shotgun, too.

Just click on a pic if you want to see them close-up. Thanks, Benne, for this bit of spring!

Adios, M-er F-er!

My taxes are done. Whew!

Whoa Imus-

Ok, Imus was a dumb-ass. No doubt about it. I thought that this column by Terry Moran was kind of interesting. It's pretty hard to justify smacking Imus when hip-hop/rap/whatever is the way it is. Isn't Russell Simmons a hoot, so eloquent about language in rap, yet slamming Imus?

It's all useless. I asked my daughter years ago not to buy a rapper's music because of what he was saying. No moral judgement, just "please don't give that man your money." She thought, of course, that I was hopelessly old-fashioned.

She doesn't realize that my generation is at fault for this. We bought it from Funkadelic in the '70s, it was still funny when Andrew Dice Clay asked "What's in the bag, bitch?" in the late '80s. Any wonder that the birth of rap and slutty/smutty comedy collided to form hip-hop culture?

It ain't that funny anymore. Imus just happened to be the one who got smacked, "Ouch! no fair!"

It's our fault, because we let it go this far.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'd like to see the manager, please....

Two months ago, I was jumping up and down with excitement. The Chinese New Year was upon us, and the new year looked very promising. I didn't cut my hair. I was careful to sweep towards me, I gave out candies.

I'd like to return this new year, and I want my money back. So far, this has been a yucky eight weeks. My dad, my sinuses and my eye, my friends' families (a few of you, I might point out), frozen pipes, horrible weather. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

THIS is good stuff? Someone in the astrology department was drunk when they wrote up the predictions.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Glorious green Wrens

Who says Wrens are brown? I misread Grace's email to me yesterday, and didn't realize she sent a scan of her Wren....she is 3/4 of the way finished already!

Mine doesn't look like much...I need you guys to keep me on track and honest with this one. It would score big Mother's Day points with DMIL, and I need to keep THAT in mind! At least I started ball two. I didn't realize what a joy Highland Silk was to knit!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled Wren-

I finished Kiri Beaded from Hell last night. I was praying for some blocking magic, because it didn't look like much. I dampened it, and laid it back out for the second scan, but I see a hard, pinned blocking in her future. In the present state, she's about 19" deep, and about 40" wide, so I would like to open her up just a bit more.
On beading....I was a beading virgin. Let's just say I shoulda stayed that way. In the amount of time I spent adding beads, I could have knit an entire extra ball of Pharao in the scarf/shawl. My take on the whole thing?

1) I shoulda used brighter beads. Pearl white, assorted pale pinks, and a few metallics didn't give me enough ooomph for my efforts. Subtley is wasted on dolts like me.

2) Adding beads by the stitch (vs. stringing the whole mess) is time consuming, but either you string en masse, or you string by the stitch. For precise color placement, "by the stitch" can't be beat. And you don't need to fiddle with "I need 15 blues, followed by 17 pinks" and that kind of stuff, which would make me crazier than I am.

Having said all that, I have a like amount of Kelly Green Pharao that is waiting for white fiberoptic beads. The freaking Swallowtail WILL happen. I am obsessed with that idea.
Weekly Wren updates-
Grace is chugging right along. She's got a back and both sleeves done.
Benne is to the underarm decreases.
I can start ball of yarn #2. Whew!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thank you-

Thank you very much for your kindness. Chris brought in a Mutablis last week, on behalf of my good knitting buddies. It should not surprise any of you that, like my yarn, I like colorful roses. You guys are the coolest. XO

It's easier

To add the beads on the return row than to tuck them in to a SSK or K2tog. I want this last repeat to be beaded like I mean it, but it's tedious. Daryl asked what size beads I am using, and they probably ARE 5s, but I know for sure that I am using these from Bead Stuff of Austin. Those are my colored beads, and they are plopping in pretty easily.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Forget Swallowtail, it's Kiri, beaded

After my big Swallowtail disaster, I figured I could probably manage Kiri for the silent auction-it's due in 8 days, and I just don't have the heart to reknit Swallowtail for a deadline. I have about 130 stitches on the needles, and have started beading. Of course there is no planning ahead in Betsyland. I had no idea how many beads to thread on, and no idea where I wanted them.
I rigged a little dental floss as a "needle" to thread the bead onto each stitch. It's slow going, but I am learning a lot. In Kiri, the points are formed by a slip 1, k2tog, PSSO. On the upper row of my swatch, I slipped the bead on the stitch that is slipped, then I did the PSSO. On the lower row, I slipped the bead onto the resulting stitch. I think I like the bead (a size E, BTW) on the resulting stitch a little better, because I think it looks cleaner. I am closing in on the end of the first ball of Pharao, and will probably embellish MORE as I near the end. I ordered additional (larger) beads, and they aren't here yet. Wish they would hurry.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Never mind, it will frog itself

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Wren updates.

T's Wren. Uh oh, this doesn't look good.
Benne checked her stash-acre a few times, swatched and frogged.
Saturday updates-T is very certainly trying to get us to buy Zodiac, which goes on sale at on Tuesday. I am waivering HARD. Benne is waivering hard. We spend an hour talking ourselves out of the yarn. Can we resist? The things that make it tough is that it's a) cheap, b) colorful, c) Alice Trueman recommended it. Uh oh. The thing that makes it easier to resist is the nylon component...I have rough hands, and there isn't enough hand lotion in the world to get around that!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

End of Wren (week 1)

I've peeked around-Jayne and Trish are whizzing right thru the pattern. On the other hand, Barbara's yarn shipped today, which means I am somewhere in the middle. My original plan was to do one section each week, so I started on the back today. Barbara has plenty of time to catch ME! The Highland Silk is GREAT to knit with-and I see myself done with the back by Saturday afternoon. Send me photos, y'all!

You might wonder what's taking me so long...well, the eyepatch really does affect how long I want to sit and knit. And I've started the Swallowtail...the silent auction is two weeks from this weekend, so I gotta hit that pretty hard. It's in Austermann Pharao, and I have to say, I don't really care to knit this in laceweight cotton. I showed some of my colleagues my little bit, and the pattern, and they seemed to think it would sell well. I hope so.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wren-along 07

As of today, our members include

They Blog--Lisa, Barbara (I think-Barbara, what's your new blog addy?), Jayne,

They Blog not--Bri, Benne, Nora

Plan to start later--Grace

Did I miss anyone ??? Speak up now.

I also got a message from anonymous

Hi there! How do I "join" the KAL? I started Wren last night - love the pattern.Question (I can't believe I'm already "stuck"). The first set of decreases on the back ribbing, any specific decrease? Thanks!

Anon-I would space the decreases evenly if I were you. And tell us who you are, please.

I'd like to show photo updates every Friday. If you could mail to Betsy at my work ( that would be groovy. Do not use the info address shown on the link, use Betsy instead.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Relax, Max

Your nerves are just like jumpin' jacks, Max.

I finally ran to the desktop and looked the song up when I heard the Doubletree ad yesterday morning. This song is older than I am, but it demonstrates all the thing I miss in music. I miss the brass section, I miss sassiness without sluttiness, and I miss raw recording. You can hear Dinah Washington smile when she sings. Here's a sample on Amazon.

I'm off to find a copy of this recording. Wallyworld offered only one DW track, and it wasn't this one.

This sounds like good music to Wren to.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Stoopit tank and the frog pond

Lately, I haven't felt all that great. Last weekend, I cast on Ribby Tank. I cast it on SEVERAL times. This morning, I pulled it out, and had a serious look at it...I am ONE ribbing set off at the underarms. I have 11 K2 P2 sets at one underarm, and 12 at the other. Damnit. Frogging this worthless mess, and going on to Wren.